Not. Not. Not. Not.

I have notebooks piled up around my study. One of them is my ‘Book of Memories’, where I scribble down random memories that pop up, usually triggered by some current event. Another, my commonplace book, records words and phrases that I like (I’ve talked about my commonplace book before). Yet another captures story ideas, in embryonic form, waiting patiently for me to bring them to life.

Eventually I will sit down to turn those germs of ideas into stories, excited to get the idea onto the page at last.

And then … and then nothing. As soon as my inner writer realises that I am writing something intended to be read by others, a wall goes up between my brain and my hands that censors every word choice, thought, decision, or even a spark of an idea.

It’s not good enough. That’s the wrong word. The flow’s not right. The rhythm is not there.

Not. Not. Not. Not.

Sometimes I will give in, defeated by myself, my thought patterns and conditioning.

Deflated, I’ll grab my journal to purge myself of my frustration, anxiety, guilt, and inadequacy, the words tumbling out at speed, eager for me to capture them.

They relish the chance to be realised, to come to life on the page.

They do not judge me. They are just happy to be set free.

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